Jack Logan and a loose confederation of drinking buddies spent more than a decade writing songs and recording them in various garages, working more or less for their own amusement, never trying to land a record contract. All had day jobs: Logan and his best friend Kelly Keneipp repaired swimming-pool motors. After amassing over 600 songs on tapes of varying quality, Logan sent them to Peter Jesperson, the Minneapolis producer known for discovering and nurturing the Replacements. Jesperson went through the collected works and sorted out the 42 songs of the two-CD Bulk — some cry-in-your-beer country ballads, some uptempo rockers, some lugubrious narratives about death.
Logan, who lives in Winder, Georgia, is a raconteur in the Southern style. His characters wear their humanity proudly, and their circumstances update the Southern Gothic morality of Flannery O’Connor to include the current society of the trailer park and the long-haul trucker. Bulk is so diffuse it’s impossible to pick just a few highlights. The rock anthems include the reverent “Female Jesus” and the tale of a sad end, “Floating Cowboy.” Country sendups include the self-explanatory “New Used Car and a Plate of Bar-B-Que.” The album’s gorgeously understated ballads, which glance at Chris Isaak and Richard Thompson, ponder the timeless questions of love and longing in genuinely new ways; Logan wonders if, after acquiring the car and house and woman that once seemed unattainable, “Would I Be Happy Then?” The promotional Bulk 101 is an 11-song “highlights” sampler of Bulk; Out of Whack is a homegrown four-song EP that finds Logan’s sardonic wit in rare form.
Mood Elevator, credited to Logan and his four-piece band, Liquor Cabinet (in which Keneipp plays guitar and keyboards), is a more traditional studio effort — just seventeen songs, most of them under three minutes. The discipline extends to the songs themselves, which are tightly focused yet still infused with Logan’s novelistic imagery and ear for the memorable — but hardly gratuitous — melody line. “Ladies and Gentleman” is nothing more than the account of a man stepping up to address an assembled crowd; the somber “My New Town” collects the dejected musings of a man alienated by his new environment. Guitarist Dave Phillips underlines Logan’s pain with graceful, elegant solos that are usually constructed from just one or two notes, and the band, which supported Logan on much of Bulk, has acquired the good sense to know when to roar and when to lay back.
In 2000, Keneipp and his wife released an album they recorded with Vic Chesnutt.